Leverage (vb.) to use something for its maximum force
I have had the pleasure of coaching middle school football for a few seasons and involved for many more. Last season we won the city championship. Frankly, we were more talented than the other teams by far. When asked “what team are you most proud of?, that team doesn’t warrant the #1 spot. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of that team and what they accomplished, but I am more proud of the team 2 years ago and here’s why: leverage!
Two years ago, the team was less talented and less experienced. We finished 3rd in the city. Not as great of finish as this years team, but respectable. Still, they leveraged their talent.
Our fourth game of the season, against our arch rival, Jardine, we lost by 30. It wasn’t even close. Three weeks later, on a chilly night on the turf at Hummer Sports Park, we faced Jardine again in the 3rd-4th place game. The coaches were hyped; the kids were hyped; our fans were hyped. Man for man, they out talented us nearly across the board. We may have had the edge at running back but that was all. That night we took it to them and avenged our 30 or beating with our own 14 pt victory. That group of players leveraged their talents to the max. They wrung out every bit of ability they had and achieved all they could. That is what makes coaches proud! John Wooden once said: “Success is the piece of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
That team achieved success because they leveraged all they had to do everything they could.
We are given only so much time on this earth. God asks that we leverage this life for His glory. he desired that we make the maximum impact on the world around us. That is what leverage is after all, using something for its maximum force.
James reminds us that our life here on this earth is a “mist”. So the question is, “what will we do with our mist?”
Jesus makes it quite clear that our life is leveraged in pouring it out for others. The maximum impact of our 80+ years on this earth is found in laying our lives down for others. Set in his example (Mark 10.45), the lives that we have are leveraged in service to others.
James, Jesus half-brother, reminds his readers: “Religion that is pure and faultless is too look after orphans and widows.”
Looking out for others, serving others, laying our lives down, is the very best way to leverage the time we have on this earth. It is completely contrary to what the world tells us this life is for.
“What can I gain?” “How much stuff can I accumulate?” “How much wealth can I attain?” “What is in it for me?” The purity has been lost on this world. Selflessness has been replaced with a me-first mentality. Amazon’s catered for you, recommended-for-you, shopping experience has left us bereft of an others first mentality. Facebook’s friends you may also know and stories-you-may-like, had led us to believe that we are the center of our relationships. I fear that someday the shopping experience may spill over into the church, where we try to cater to the individual believer, at the expense of the community, in a gross misapplication of Paul’s famous verse: “When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.” (1 Corinthians 9.22)
Certainly, Paul did bring the gospel to different people in different ways, however, the message never changed form. (1 Cor. 9.22)
I am reminded of a story told to me by my friend Scott Brooks. A man named George Steinberger, who was quite renowned in the rodeo world, especially around these parts, was moving from his home in Olathe to Richmond. On his ranch in Richmond, atop a hill, stood a massive steel cross. George had no qualms about letting you know what he believed. But this Cross had be built at his home in Olathe and followed him down to Richmond. The problem was that his gates were bigger in Olathe than they were in Richmond. The cross wouldn’t fit through. So they cut the cross down to a manageable size to get it on the ranch. Immediately, after getting it on the ranch, they went to welding it back together, to its full size. It sets on his property, full and robust, as a sign to everyone who George served throughout his life.
Want know what I think of every time I see it: “God, let me make the cross as accessible to everyone, but never let me cut it down to size to fit anyone!” George understood to get it in he had to work at it, but once it was in someone’s life, it couldn’t be changed, cut down, or transformed.
The words: “If anyone would come after me, they must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me” are not words that are to be altered, changed, or softened. It is a call to pour out this life in service to another. In other words: leverage this life to the fullest.
The problem is that this life isn’t all peppermints and unicorns. There are every day obstacles that challenge and oppress us. “Look on the bright side” is how the world has chosen to advise us. But scripture says, in the same advice of our life, we should leverage these things in the same way.
Doubt, suffering, and injustice are the products of living in a fallen world. Still, they are arrows that point us to God.
Over the next few weeks, I want to discuss how to leverage these topics to their fullest in our walk with Christ.